|Me in 2009 - browsing the market at l'Isle sur la Sorgue.|
As many of you seemed to have liked the Update Bits, here is a second edition, with a few random topics I wanted to write a few words on. Besides, it is a good format of article to tiptoe back on the blog after two weeks without internet. If you have any specific topic you'd like to hear about in future update bits, please let me know!
Without InternetI found myself without internet twice these past six months: for one week in Thailand, as I left the laptop home and only connected for 10 minutes once a day to post a souvenir picture on Instagram or facebook; and for two weeks this past month, as I moved in and waited for the new appartment to get connected.
Both these experiences confirm what I already feel about this topic:
- At first, it feels weird, worrying even, to be "unconnected"
- It is incredible how much extra free time there is when I don't check this or browse that for "just five minutes"
- Missing out isn't such a big deal. Two weeks without twitter or facebook, and I didn't miss such important things after all.
I'm thinking of seriously revising my internet consumption at home now that it's back online. The other activities I replaced it with were far more interesting after all. There might be a level up mini-challenge coming out of all this.
On KindnessI have been working on a Utopia for a short story contest these past few weeks, and it got me to think about human nature, or rather, on which parts of human nature today's society is appealing to. And I realized something: despite everything that religions and other moral institutions tell us, I don't believe our society is encouraging kindness today.
One concrete example: when I came back from Thailand, I brought a number of things back for my loved ones - one day, as we discussed hand-made flower-shaped soaps I brought back as a gift, a friend who also went there said "wow, you have been cheated here, we went with a Thai-speaking guy and we paid less than half the price for it".
In other words, giving decent money for a hand-made object, which is still nothing for me (6€ at most) is considered "being cheated", with no regards to the person who made it and earns very little compared to me. This mindset seems to be anchored in our society, that kind people are going to "be cheated" by less scrupulous individuals. There is a saying in French that says "trop bon, trop con" ("too good, too stupid").
While it is true that being too naive can indeed lead to being actually cheated, I think the situation of an actual rip off is rare enough. On the other hand, keeping this mindset daily encourages selfish behaviour, to negotiate and bargain for our own personal gain and interests instead of looking to be kind and help other people.
While I was in Thailand, I was picky about what I bought (I picked wood instead of cheap resin for example), but I never tried to negotiate prices, because I considered it a kindness to give whatever I could to these local people who live off tourism. Not only does this encourage me to be kinder, it also avoids much headache and fosters a more serene mindset - I mean, how do you feel when you think you have been cheated? How do you feel when you think you have been kind?
In the end, it's all about changing the world view in order to be kinder, but also feel better with ourselves and our choices. Being kind is a strength, not a weakness, as today's society wants us to believe. Personally, I'm blaming Voltaire for this (his book Candide wasn't very nice to kind people).
The Strength to EndureI will end these update bits with a word on growth and confidence as a human being. As you may have noticed if you have been reading this blog for a while, the road to simplification hasn't been only about editing material items for me.
One unexpected side effect of simplifying, and cultivating mindfulness, has been to grow as a human being. I got to know myself better, strengths and weaknesses alike, to accept myself as a whole, and keep growing. But it is always easier to feel happy and fulfilled in the calmer periods of life.
As I discovered with the turmoils of a move (which is a minor turmoil after all, financial, material and logistic only), growing in confidence, being who we are and being comfortable with ourselves gives strength to endure these more difficult moments of life.
Being at peace with yourself doesn't mean a constant happiness, we feel all kinds of emotions and that's what makes life beautiful. However, in the face of a hardship that generates negative emotions - of anxiety, worry and fatigue in the case of a move - I discovered that this journey of inner growth helps coping with the situation, being more tolerant with how I feel, taking time to let the emotions express themselves and then go back to the practicalities of finding a solution.
I guess it's a part of growing up in general, but this simplification journey, that fosters mindfulness, knowing and accepting oneself, seems to help a lot with harder times. My alien advisor helped a lot too. I mean, how terrible can a move be compared to having your planet invaded by Goa'uld?
|"Indeed". (source: Stargate SG1 TV series)|
That's it for today's update bits, I hope you enjoyed the post. I'll be getting back to posting more regularly little by little, as I settle down in my new daily life. What about you? How was April for you?